Billie Holiday Theatre to Present Virtual Edition of 50IN50: LETTERS TO OUR SONS
The AUDELCO and Obie-Award-winning Billie Holiday Theatre will present a special virtual edition of its popular 50in50 monologue showcase series with the highly anticipated 50in50:Letters to Our Sons as part of its new #StayAtHome Reading Series, an innovative online play reading series designed to bring together writers, directors and actors from across the country from their own homes via Zoom. While its live shows, programs, classes and venues remain closed as the world navigates through the COVID-19 pandemic, The Billie aims to reach audiences from around the corner and around the globe with this Series. Part of The Billie's 2020 Spring season, 50in50: Letters to Our Sons was originally scheduled to have its premiere in Brooklyn in Mid-March and will now have its virtual premiere via the Theatre's Facebook Live platform.
50in50: Letters to Our Sons brings a collective of dynamic women actors together to read 50 original monologues by 50 Black women writers from across the globe in response to MacArthur "Genius" Dominique Morisseau's curatorial statement. Cast includes: Lisa Arrindell (The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Saints & Sinners, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), Vanessa Bell Calloway (Saints &Sinners, Harriet, Coming 2 America) Keena Ferguson (Sistas, Atlanta, S.W.A.T.), Celestine Rae (Boardwalk Empire, Blacklist), Phyllis Yvonne Stickney (How Stella Got Her Groove Back, The Women of Brewster Place) `rand Pauletta Pearson Washington (She's Gotta Have It, The Old Settler and Autumn at The Billie). Directed by Indira Etwaroo with live music performed by Maritri Garrett and Tayler Harris, 50in50 will premiere on Saturday, April 4th at 7pm via https://www.facebook.com/billieholidaytheatre.
This year's curatorial statement asks: "If sons are not just born of our loins, but also born of our collective energies, then what do we want to say to our sons? This legion of men who will grow up in a post #MeToo, #BlackLivesMatter, post #TimesUp era? When we have been the defenders of men whose un-muted music continues to defile and degrade our sacred bodies? When we know these sons are also growing up in a world with our daughters, who do we want them to become? What wish, what lesson, what truth do we want them to know that could turn their course? Create a future of warriors, gentle giants, gracious, kind, loving, life-sustaining men? What do we want them to know about us and about themselves? And if we could create a map for their survival, what would be the route?"
"With 50in50, we wanted to create a space and platform for agency and empowerment so that women can share their stories from the nuanced and diverse places that we as Black women exist in every day," said Dr. Indira Etwaroo, Executive Director, BHT. "This year's theme really allows us to look at these current issues through the lens of honest and open dialogue with Black men."
The Billie's new #StayAtHome Reading Series officially launched earlier this week in partnership with the acclaimed Silvera Writers' Workshop, #StayAtHome is with Richard Wesley's Autumn. The virtual reading was directed remotely by the renowned Walter Dallas, who originally helmed the AUDELCO Award-winning Best Play of the Year in addition to five other AUDELCO Awards. Autumn explores the divides marking sharply different political agendas against the needs of the people.
"Throughout history, the arts have been mankind's answer in times of unthinkable struggle, hardship, and chaos," stated Dr. Etwaroo. "This will be no different, as we present artists and stories online, and I am hopeful that we as a global community will emerge stronger, more resilient, and more united than ever before."
"Now, more than ever, we need art to help us see the way forward in these uncertain times. We, at the Frank Silvera Writers' Workshop," stated Garland Lee Thompson, Jr., Executive Director, FSWW, "are committed to do our part as our nation moves through, and past this pandemic to a time when we can be in the same room again to laugh, share our stories, and learn."
Additionally, The Billie has migrated classes for the Black Arts Institute, a partnership with Stella Adler Studio of Acting and NYU, as well as its Youth Arts Academy (YAA) to remote learning. Students will connect with each other and faculty through the platform Zoom and will maintain their normal class schedule to include Voice and Dialect, Movement Dance and Studio Rehearsal. YAA will move to distance learning utilizing weekly classes presented asynchronously by the faculty on Vimeo.
"It is remarkable to see the resolve of the students. They represent the best in us; their resilience, their creative drive and passion," stated Christopher Berry, Program Director of the Black Arts Institute held at The Billie. "They are committed to becoming socially-conscious citizens. It is a joy to work with them in these unprecedented times."
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